Photos by Yann Ropars www.YannPhotoVideo.com
Redstone Cyclery was “the World’s Smallest Bike Shop” when it opened in 2003. Maybe twice the size of your typical espresso cart, it was located just off Main Street in downtown Lyons, Colo. It’s moved twice since then, growing not only its inventory but also a mountain bike culture that’s equal parts hardcore and laid back.
Though I shiver every time I step into the “Redstone” with it’s grease-stained concrete floors and a single-paned glass door that doesn’t always close all the way, unfailingly the shop’s handlebar-mustached proprietor Dave Chase offers me a warm smile and a, “What’s up dude?” And every time I sit at the cracked, peeling sticker-covered counter to shoot the breeze, he offers me a beer, replying to my ‘how are yous?’ with: “It’s the best day ever!”
Chase greets all who enter his shop this way. Stick around long enough to talk bike parts or trails, and he or his main employee Kevin Hodgell will inevitably invite you on one of the longer rides the shop loosely organizes throughout the summer or on a Tuesday night ride.
“I will ride anywhere, with anybody, anytime, as long as good attitudes are maintained. That is more key than anything else,” says Chase.
When Chase moved to town in 2001, he says, “you could count the local lifestyle cyclists on maybe two hands.” Now the shop bustles with thousands of visitors from all over the United States, including hundreds who accompany Chase on Tuesday night rides. Hardcore locals won’t miss this signature weekly Lyons ride, regardless of snow, rain, darkness, or cold temps. They—along with a random assortment of friends of friends, bike reps, and other folks—not only utilize the world-class Boulder County Open Space trails bordering Lyons, but also spend hours exploring Forest Service trails in the mountains outside of Lyons. And it’s these riders who really make the scene so unique.
According to longtime Tuesday-night regular Sean Buckman: “Everyone has the same attitude toward riding, most have the same skill set—not all, but it’s very similar. Go to different towns, and there are different types of riders. Here, we all ride the same stupid stuff that Dave takes us on.” But, he adds, whether riders are hiking their bikes, riding at dark on snowy trails, or whatever, “everyone is smiling and laughing, and we always come back for more.”
Hodgell agrees. On his first ride with the group, he borrowed Chase’s single speed. “We rode in Johnny Park, and it was hard as hell. There was more walking than riding, and there was about a foot of snow on the trail in places. But we had a really good time.” Hodgell was hooked, so much so that in 2000 he started working at the shop.
“Some people in the bike culture have more of an attitude about how, where, and what they ride,” Hodgell adds. “Here we just get together and ride our bikes hard.”
“We took my Rocky Mountain Bicycle rep into the forest last Wednesday,” adds Chase. “He’s from Canada, where you’ve got the hardcore cyclists from Whistler. None of those Canadian guys want to ride in the States. But after the ride I checked in with him, and he said to me, ‘you guys are the real deal. A lot of shops in other places will sell bikes because it’s a fashion thing. You wear the shit out of your bikes. You guys really mountain bike!’ I took that as a really incredible compliment.”
And then there’s the beer. They drink a lot of it and often—in the shop, outside in front of regular bonfires, and after a grueling uphill ride to the top of some obscure mountain bike trail in the mountains.
“From the beginning we’ve been really good friends and partners with Oskar Blues,” Hodgell explains.
“Yeah, it’s s symbiotic relationship,” Buckman adds with a laugh. “We ride bikes, we drink their beer; they make their own bikes (Reeb Bicycles), we buy them, and we drink more beer.”
The whole shop erupts in laughter, and Chase’s older brother from Seattle, Wash., Doug “The Wizard” Chase, adds to the conversation.
“It’s a fun combo of hardcore and laid back,” he explains, long, pointed, gray beard bobbing as he talks. “Everybody bikes these really difficult, gnarly trails to the top of the mountain and back down. But then we stop on the top and sit around and drink beer. It’s not just a social ride. You can’t just be at the top of the mountain if you don’t have legs, skills, and lungs.”
“But,” Dave Chase adds, “enjoyment is key!”
“Are you ready to ride yet, Dave?” Buckman interrupts.
“Almost… I still have to put some inventory away…” Chase replies.
By way of letting me know the interview is over, Chase pipes in again. “At the end of the day we’re selling smiles. I do need to make money and feed the kids, but I have always focused more on having a good time and making people happy. The rest will come out of that. So far so good.”
Come to Lyons Saturday, May 31st and enjoy some of the benefits of Lyons mountain bike culture at the Lyons Outdoor Games. The Town of Lyons, with help from Chase and many others, built a pump track and dirt jump park to support both the local scene and the numerous visitors who come through Town each year. For the past three years, the Outlaws of Dirt have brought their dynamic BMX/MTB/Dirt Jump Series to the Games. Both professionals and kids on Strider bikes will be able to take advantage of the pump track and dirt jumps during the Games. Click here to register: http://outlawsofdirt.com/register/ To learn more about the Lyons Outdoor Games, please visit their website: www.lyonsoutdoorgames.com.
–Lizzy Scully is the Lyons Outdoor Games organizer